Warsaw: My second visit to this city

Trip Start May 01, 1958
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Sheraton Warsaw Hotel
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Will arrive on November 1

Flag of Poland  , Central Poland,
Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm posting this map that shows our itinerary for this journey from Warsaw to Hamburg.  The five days in Poland was a pre-cruise extension, and I extended my stay in Hamburg by three days to spend with friends.   
  
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Nov 21:  Our flight to return home from Hamburg to London was delayed because of fog in London, and we sat on the tarmac for about one hour even after we landed at Heathrow.  British Airways provided one nights accommodation at the Hilton with dinner and breakfast thrown in, and I finally arrived home about 3:30PM today. 

I made notes all along the way for this blog, but my visit to Poland seems like it was several months ago rather a couple of weeks ago.   Please bear with me, because I'll need to organize my notes on many small pieces of note paper that's helter-skelter with my other documents, and I still have to download and edit my pictures.   I should finish in about two weeks, so I won't blame you if you visit this blog next month - or even later.
 
This journey of 22-days took in Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Black Madonna, Prague, the sandstone massive of Southern Germany, and a 7-night cruise on the Elbe from
Dresden to Hamburg.  I also enjoyed a few days with friends from Lippstadt, Germany, and Manchester, England, by extending my stay in Hamburg after the end of the organized tour. The experiences were many, and it will be a challenge to remember some of the highlights of this great journey.

Map of Warsaw: The Sheraton is located on the lower right, the green highlights the road to Old Town.
 
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BRIEF ON POLAND:
It's the 69th largest country in the world with a population of 38 million.   Their GDP growth is over 4.3%, but their unemployment is still over 9%.   It's an amazing country that has developed into one of the economic powerhouse of Europe.   When I visited here 17-years ago, the hotel where I stayed not far from the Palace of Culture and Science was one of the tallest buildings.   Warsaw is now  a modern city with all the sense of economic growth and pride the people have and show. 

Poland has all the top designer stores in their shopping area, with many sprinkling of McDonalds and Starbucks throughout the city of Warsaw.   The change since my last visit to this country is more than dramatic; it's awe inspiring.   

WARSAW: Nov 2, 2011. This was my second visit to Poland. I visited here in 1994 when Warsaw didn't have any modern structures to speak of, and the only landmark that was prominent then and still is today is the Palace of Culture and Science that was commissioned by Stalin and completed in 1955 – then the tallest building in Poland. Today, Warsaw's southside street from Old Town, Stare Miasto, (to our hotel, the Sheraton) is as contemporary as any one can find in this world. The skyline has changed dramatically, especially in the financial district, since my visit here 17-years ago. They have designer shops, good restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and bars where college students hang out at night. Intermingled with the new are some interesting “old” churches, the university, and statues.  What follows is a brief history of Warsaw, what I experienced during my time in this “historic” city, and some of the pictures I took along the way.

NOTE: #1 is the picture I took in 1994 of the Palace of Culture and Science from my room.  #2 is the Chopin concert  #3 is the hotel that is no longer there
 
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Warsaw is the largest city in Poland, and its capital with 2.6 million inhabitants. 85% of the Old
Town Market Place was destroyed during WWII. Reconstruction began in 1949 until 1963, but the Royal Palace was reconstructed between 1971 and 1984 at incredible cost, but it was still under scaffolding in 1998. Old Town Market Place originated in the late 13th century, and many of the buildings were built between the 14th and 18th century. Most of the buildings are Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque-style. Walking around in the Old Town Market Place is a favorite tourist activity; the architecture remains the same as it was before WWII, because the reconstruction was done from old paintings and photographs. Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004, and it was the impetus that improved their economy to one of the strongest in the EU today showing a GDP growth rate of 4.3%.


During the bus tour, we passed by Constitution Square, St Alexander Church, embassy row, and stopped at Lazien Park to take pictures of Chopin's Monument. Our bus tour included a ride through the Jewish Ghetto where the gestapo rounded up most of the 400,000 Jews. One of Europe's largest Jewish cemetery is located here. 50,000 Jews were left at the end of the war, but only only 2,000 remain. A huge glass building now stands where the Synagogue once stood. We drove past the Opera House built in 1810, and the largest in Europe. 
 
 
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During our walking tour, we passed through Palace Square, visited St John's Cathedral (oldest; building started 1390), spent time in Market Square (another couple and I had lunch there), then passed through the city walls, past the Barbican, passed by Marie Curie's house, then to the 1944 Uprising Memorial.

I'm posting the post office in market square first, because this is a good place to exchange your money into Polish klotzy (on the second floor), and to get postage stamps if you need it. They don't charge commission, and the exchange rate is one of the best in all of Poland.

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A brief on Marie Curie (1867-1934):  She was a physicist who researched radioactivity, polonium and radium.  She won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, and in 1911 for Chemistry (first woman to win the Nobel Prize).    

The 1944 Uprising against the Nazi occupation was both glorious and tragic in Warsaw's history. The Nazi's blasted and set fire on the whole city, and over 90% laid in ruin. 

This stone commemorates 1000 years of Christianity in Poland.
 
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In the early evening, about a third of our group took the optional Chopin piano concert by Jerzy Romaniuk, and dinner tour ($95). It was one of my favorite moments during this tour of Eastern Europe.
 
 
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Review of FLIK restaurant: http://www.tripadvisor.in/Restaurant_Review-g274856-d1045658-Reviews-Flik-Warsaw_Central_Poland.html  

From Fryderyk Chopin University of Music on Jerzy Romaniuk:
Jerzy Romaniuk has been on tours to many countries including the UK, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Cuba, France, Austria, the Arab Emirates and China.

Note on Chopin: Although Chopin died and was buried in Paris, his sister brought his heart back to Warsaw to be interred at Church of the Holy Cross.    
 

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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